Acts 17:16-32 sermon

Intro:

Last week the sermon was about learning and studying the Scriptures. Last week I focused on the Bereans and how they went back to God’s Word when there was a new idea. They checked the Scriptures in order to see what the Scriptures had to say about this new teaching the Apostle Pau taught. Then they found out that this teaching did not contradict the Scriptures. They discovered that the Scriptures prophesied about Christ and they became Christians.

So, what is your standard? Do you go back to the Bible for Truth? On one end of the spectrum we must be sure that we are not corrupted by culture, this means that we know the faith and we go back to God’s Word. On another end of the spectrum we must be prepared to be a witness. How can you cross cultural barriers in order to be a witness? The Apostle Paul did this. Do you know culture?

1 Chronicles 12:32:

from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command…

Here is a poem about the way people think:

Invictus

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY

Out of the night that covers me,

            Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

            For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

            I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

            My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

            Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

            Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

            How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

            I am the captain of my soul.

Okay, how do we connect with that worldview? Everyone has a worldview, this concerns the way that we view the world. Most of the time these are under the surface, we do not think about it. The Bible gives us a Christian worldview. But we also must know where others are coming from. The Apostle Paul did. Sometimes we are afraid of culture. Sometimes we are offended by culture and we withdraw. Or we are delighted by culture and we assimilate. The Apostle Paul was distressed by culture and so he engaged culture with the Gospel.

I want to look at Acts 17:16-34 and make the case that he knew the culture and he was ready to engage the culture.

Let’s read Acts 17:16-34:

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17  So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18  A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19  Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20  You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21  (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22  Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24  “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26  From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b]

29  “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30  In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31  For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32  When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33  At that, Paul left the Council. 34  Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others

[I am deeply indebted to Dr. Bill Brown, chancellor of Cedarville University, much of my information, and PowerPoint, comes from his chapel messages, specifically February 11 and 12, 2003]

  1. We’ll come back to this passage but my challenge is that we think worldviewishly. Think about where people are coming from, what is their worldview and what is the Christian worldview. Worldview questions are: What is wrong and how can it be fixed; what is real; where is history going; What has value; what can be known and how can it be known; what happens to a person after death. There are different views.
    1. Naturalism: the world as we see it. Nature is everything. There is nothing else. “It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God…I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that…

My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not rare and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time .”

Thomas Nagel

Professor of Law and

Philosophy

NYU

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

(Planned Parenthood V. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 [1992]).

Opinion by O’Connor, Kennedy and Souter

In the beginning

were the particles

and the impersonal laws of physics.

And the particles somehow became complex living stuff; and the stuff imagined God, But then discovered evolution.

    1. Existentialism: I must find meaning in my life because there is no meaning to my life. “Marilyn Manson signifies freedom.

He’s showing that it’s OK to be

yourself even if people don’t agree

to it. And that’s what makes us like

him so much – that we can be different.

We can have fangs. We can dye our hair.”

-CNN

    1. Nihilism: life is empty, meaningless, I need to do anything I want. Life’s but a walking shadow,

a poor player

That struts and frets his hour

upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Macbeth act V, scene V

    1. Nihilism in rock:
  • Alice in Chains
  • Acid Drinkers
  • Anthrax
  • Death Angel
  • God Forsaken
  • House of Pain
  • Hellhammer
  • Helloween
  • Judas Priest
  • Life Sex and Death
  • megadeth
  • Obituary
  • Beck
  • Biohazard
  • Black Sabbath
  • Body Count
  • Sodom
  • Death of Millions
  • Porno for Pyros
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Suicide
  • White Zombie
  • Angelcorpse
  • Autopsy
  • Blood
  • Christ Agony
  • Deicide
  • Demonic
  • Dissection
  • Impaled Nazarene
  • Hades
  • Luciferon
  • Massacre
  • Necrophobic
  • rotting Christ
  • Sadistic Intent
  • Slayer
  • Torchure
  • Mr. Rogers by Korn: One song’s lyrics: You told me everybody was my neighbor.

They took advantage of me.

I wish I hadn’t watched you.

I hate you . . .

  • Nihilism in life: Proverbs 8:35-36: For he who finds me [wisdom] finds life
And obtains favor from the Lord.

But he who sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love death.”

    1. Hedonism: life has no purpose, other than pleasure, go for it. Hedonism: eat drink and whatever: “You only live once. Nobody gets out of

this alive. So you might as well drink it

all and snort it all and live as fast as you

can. I don’t won’t to be fifty and look

back and say, “I wish I’d done that.”

And if you get in trouble along the way,

so what? You pay the dues.”

Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue

    1. Humanism: I must make the world a better place for humans.
      1. I use the word ‘Humanist’ to mean

someone who believes that man is just

as much a natural phenomenon as an

animal or plant; that his body, mind

and soul were not supernaturally created

but are products of evolution, and that he

is not under the control or guidance of

any supernatural being or beings, but

has to rely on himself and his

own powers.”

Julian Huxley

American Humanist Association

    1. Transcendentalism: Nature= God: Buddhism:
      1. “I like spirituality, not religion or politics. Religion turns into ‘My god’s bigger than your god; therefore, you’re a heathen, and you should die, and I’ll take your land and build a temple on top of your flattened house.’ Religion is a corrupt business. Spirituality is like water and sun. When it rains, the prostitute and the pope get wet just the same. Spirituality is not memorizing the Koran or the Bible while hurting people in the name of Allah or Jesus or Buddha or oil. We are all chosen. Surely we have the capacity to transmute anger and fear into a masterpiece of joy.”

– Carlos Santana, USA Today, October 16, 2002, 1D

      1. “Shamans heal with music and herbs. You have Buddha, Krishna, Allah, Rama, Jehovah … they all want unity and harmony on this planet, all of them. That’s the message: unity and harmony and transform your fear.”

Carlos Santana speaking about the title of Santana’s latest album titled, Shaman, Associated Press, October 16, 2002.

    1. Theism: God created nature:
      1. Judaism
      2. Christianity
      3. Islam
      4. Christianity is Christ. . .

Take Christ from Christianity, and you

disembowel it; there is practically

nothing left.

Christ is the center of Christianity,

all else is circumference.

John Stott

  1. Now, let’s get back to the passage. How does Paul engage culture?
    1. There certainly is a lot in this passage. When we understand where the culture is coming from and where there thinking is we are better equipped to engage culture.
    2. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot ever fence it out.”

J. R. R. Tolkein

Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod,

Fellowship of the Ring

    1. There are 3 approaches to culture and we’ll see Paul’s approach:
      1. We can be offended by culture which leads to withdraw.
      2. We can be delighted by culture and we assimilate.
      3. We can be distressed by culture and so we engage culture.
        1. The latter is what the Bible calls us to do. . . . Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—

2 Peter 2:7-8

James 4:4: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

        1. This is what the Apostle Paul did.
      1. Verse 16 says that Paul was distressed by what he saw:
      2. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens,

he was greatly distressed to see that the

city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the

synagogues, . . .as well as in the market-

place day by day. . . . “Men of Athens, I see

that in every way you are very religious.

For as I walked around and looked

carefully at your objects of worship. . .”

Acts 17:16-34

      1. Are we distressed by the sinful culture?
      2. But Paul did not get distressed so much that he buried his head in the sand. He did not assimilate with culture either. He engaged the culture. Later we see that Paul reasoned in the synagogue. He talked to the people.
      3. Could he do that if he did not know culture? No. Could he reason with them if he did not know Christianity and the Scriptures? No. Could he reason with them if he was not seeking the Lord? Not really. If we are not seeking the Lord we can win an argument but lose the person.
      4. REMEMBER, WE ARE NOT SEEKING TO WIN ARGUMENTS BUT REACH PEOPLE WITH THE GOSPEL.
      5. Paul’s method:
        1. Greatly Distressed by the culture (verse 16)
        2. sought to understand the culture (verse 23)
        3. Started where they were (verses 22-23), he quotes two of their own poets. That is like us quoting a rock band.
        4. Positive about the Truth he found (verse 22)
        5. Knew and quoted sources (verses 22 and 28)
        6. Communicated the Gospel (verses 18 and 30-31)

Close:

We live in a culture that is considered post-Christian or we could call it pre-Christian which means that we are ripe for revival. We are ripe for an evangelical movement. I want to part of that movement. I want to be used of God. We see that Paul engaged the culture. I hope you will as well.

There was a music professor at a European school. He grew old and he could not take care of himself. He did not have anyone, so the school adopted him and he lived in a men’s dorm. Every day one of the men would come and say, “Professor what is the weather like?” The professor would respond, “It is changing, the weather always changes.” He would then strike his tuning fork against his wheel chair and say, “This is middle C, it never changed, it is constant. The weather can change, but middle C does not change.”

What is your middle C? I hope it is the Scriptures as it was for the Bereans. Cling to the Scriptures because culture will change. But don’t runaway from culture. Study culture, be a student of the culture like the men of Issachar of 1 Chronicles 12:32 and then be like Paul and engage the culture with the Heart and the Mind of Christ.

1 Cor. 9:23

I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Remember, you are never alone for the Holy Spirit is with you.

Do you know Jesus? Maybe today you realize that you are assimilated to the culture. It is time to commit to Christ.

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

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Acts 17:10-15 sermon

Opening:

Bethel just began and so did our fall planning. These are great opportunities to study the Bible. So, let me ask you, do you study the Bible? I am not talking about simply reading the Bible, but studying the Bible? Do you study the Bible? Do you read the Bible? I hope many of you do and I hope the Holy Spirit is impressing on you the need to study the Bible as well. Okay, everyone pick up a Bible, hold it. This book tells you how to attain eternal life. This book gives you wisdom for life.

So, you are going on a trip, you choose the destination, wherever you want.

Where would you go? Shout out some places, just shout them out… Wait for some comments.

Okay, how are you going to get there?

What will you do once you do get there?

Do you think you may check out AAA or something? What if they don’t have food there, or indoor plumbing or gas stations, or Steelers on television? You do want to find out about a place before you go there, correct?

Why don’t we do that with our eternal life? We are going there, we are going to spend eternity there, don’t you want to invest as much in eternity, or hopefully more, than you would on a vacation? Don’t we want to study about Heaven? The Bible has lots to say about Heaven. Don’t we want to get to know God better and Jesus, He gave us eternal life.

The music director at my last church shared with me how every morning she would see her father studying the Bible. He would have his commentary out, his Bible dictionary out and his study Bible. He would study the Bible prior to his job at the factory. Get this, he got up at something like 4:30 am to study the Bible.

He must have been like the Bereans.

In Acts 17:10-15 Paul comes to Berea and presents the Gospel. These people searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul shared was true. Many were saved. Let’s study that passage and I challenge you to be like a Berean.

The great idea today is that the Bereans were studiers, learners, they were not ignorant, I pray that we will be as well.

Read Act 17:10-15

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11  Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12  As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

13  But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14  The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15  Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

  1. Let me start with the context.
    1. Paul is chased from Thessalonica to Berea and in verse 10 he arrives in Berea. This is Paul’s second escape by night. In Acts 9:25 Paul had to escape by night as well.
    2. I wonder what that was like for Paul? I wonder what it was like for the early Christians? What was it like to flee from one place under threat of death? Are you out much after dark? I like to run after dark because of the peacefulness of the night. I like to look at the stars and see God’s beauty. But sometimes I’ll go down a street and something will scare me. I’ll see an animal or hear something. For Paul there was not time for noticing the beauty of creation. He traveled at night because of threat. There was much danger traveling during that time period and especially after dark. I once read a book called Night in Times Past. The book was about the great fear and dangers at night prior to electric lighting. Paul did a lot of traveling and faced a lot of dangers. This case is no different. Paul and Silas traveled 50 miles southwest from their last location. Can you imagine that, 50 miles? By the way, Berea is on the side of a mountain, this was not easy traveling.
    3. Paul arrives in Berea and goes to the synagogue to start preaching. That has been his modus operandi. Verse 11 says that the Bereans were more noble than the people of Thessalonica. The Bereans examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul was teaching was true.
    4. Verse 11 is a contrast with the people in Thessalonica. The people of Thessalonica chased Paul out.
    5. → a lot of times we hold up the Bereans as a standard and probably right to do so. But the reality is that they were more noble than where Paul had just come from.
    6. A contemporary example: The people of Pittsburgh were more pleasant that Cleveland. That may not mean the people in Pittsburgh were pleasant, but more than Cleveland.
    7. However, I think we can make a rightful example that the Bereans were noble. That means they were of better birth or they were open minded. That means they were ready to learn.
    8. The Bible says that they find out that what Paul said was true.
    9. You know what, they were going to the Old Testament to confirm this. Do you realize that the Old Testament has enough information to confirm who Jesus is?
    10. Many were saved. Jewish people were saved. Greek men and women were saved.
    11. Then the people from Thessalonica come to Berea and stir up a riot chasing Paul out. Now, Paul goes to Athens.
  2. Let me encourage you to be like the Bereans.
    1. The Bereans did study the Scriptures.
    2. Turn to Psalms 119:9-11:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
        By living according to your word.

10 

I seek you with all my heart;
        do not let me stray from your commands.

11 

I have hidden your word in my heart
        that I might not sin against you.

    1. You see the Scriptures are our guard for purity, for doctrine and in every way.
    2. There is so much wisdom in the Bible.
    3. Watch this video clip of the Bible and its’ importance. : http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/175859-francis-chan-why-we-need-the-bible.html
    4. Where do you get your wisdom? Where are we receiving our wisdom? You see everywhere we go we have messages being fed to us. Where is the wisdom though?
    5. The wisdom is in the Bible. More than that, as the Bereans discovered, eternal life is in the Bible. You see Paul came declaring this Truth that they had not been taught and they did not know what to think of it. So what did they do? Did they turn on Home Shopping Channel to see what to think? Did they turn on ESPN to see what to think? Did they go to CNN or FOX News or the Newspaper to see what to think? No, they went to the Bible.
    6. Okay, so two applications: The Bible is eternal life and the Bible is wisdom to shape our worldview.
      1. You see first you must know Jesus for eternal life. Without Jesus you are disconnected from God and all eternity. You need eternity. Search the Scriptures, they are all about ways to freely receive eternal life.
      2. Once you know Jesus, you get fed True, Heavenly, Spirit-filled wisdom from the Bible.
      3. This shapes our worldview. Read Isaiah 55:9-11:

gFor my thoughts are not your thoughts,
        neither are your ways my ways,h
declares the Lord.

gAs the heavens are higher than the earth,
        so are my ways higher than your ways
        and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 

As the rain and the snow
        come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
        without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
        so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
        It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
        and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

      1. As you see from that passage in Isaiah 55: God’s Word feeds us.
      2. You see Christians, we get our wisdom from God and from His Word. Everyone views the world a certain way. We call this a worldview.
      3. Our worldview is a lot of times under the surface, we do not think about it, but it is there. We view the world a certain way. Once we come to know Jesus as Savior, as we are discipled, God reshapes that worldview to fit with His Kingdom, as opposed to the fallen world. As Christians we think worldviewishly based off of the Bible, not based off of what culture tells us. So, when we think about abortion, human rights, euthanasia, war, even recycling, murder, peace and any news event going on, we must think: “What does the Bible have to say about this?” That is what I see the Bereans doing in this passage. They go to the Scriptures.

A woman was driving home one night. The weather was really nasty. Rain was coming down in buckets and visibility was very poor. Seeing taillights ahead of her, she followed the car in front. Not being able to see, the car in front seemed to be going in the right direction. So she stuck with it. All of a sudden the car in front of her came to a stop. She began to wonder what had happened; perhaps the car in front had hit a deer or some thing like that. She began to feel uncomfortable; thinking being stopped in the middle of the road can often lead to accidents. Much to her alarm the car in front of her turned off their lights. Her concern was now growing as well as her anger, and she was then startled by a knocking on her window. She looked up and there was a man standing in the pouring rain wanting to speak to her. She cracked the window open and asked the man what the problem was. The man replied by stating that that was the question he was going to ask her. She retorted that she wasnthe one who had stopped in the middle of the road and then turned off the car lights. The manreply was that they were not in the middle of the road, but in his driveway Obviously, this woman had chosen the wrong leader to follow. She had chosen a leader who would not take her to where she wanted and needed to go. She had chosen the wrong leader and the wrong road.

We follow information, we follow Truth, what is your source?

      1. Something else I notice with the Bereans is that they were learners. They studied. I talk to a lot of Christians and people and we are simply, willfully ignorant. We say that we are bad readers so we do not work on it. Or we don’t want to read, or like reading, so we just don’t. What a gift it is to be able to read. What a gift it is to be able to read the Bible and hold in our hands the wisdom of the ages. So many people are not blessed with this ability. My encouragement is that we all work on this, work on being learners as the Bereans were. Work on being studiers as the Bereans were.

Close:

Last year, I heard about a book, which I read part of, The Smartest Kids in the World and How they Got that Way. Part of the studies showed that children that rank highest in the world on test scores see their parents reading at home.

So, the Music director at my last church remembered her father studying the Bible every morning, early in the morning. You know what I see in that? I see a Berean Christian. But I see that he was not only studying, making an impact for himself and his relationship with Jesus. He was also modeling being a learner to his children. He modeled the Spiritual disciplines to his children.

WHAT ARE YOU FEEDING ON?

I really enjoy visiting Yellowstone. In fact, one of these days, when Jesus comes back, I’ve got dubs on Yellowstone! Come and visit me for a while!

Once when I was visiting the greatest national park in America, I heard a story about bears that was amazing. In the 1950’s and 60’s, tourists could drive right up to a bear, roll down their window and feed their McDonald’s hamburger to the hungry animal. He would gladly take the burger along with the hand of the tourist! The bears were changing their feeding habits and endangering visitors.

As a result, the National Park Service removed the bears and took them to higher country where God had already provided for them a natural diet of luscious berries. However, because the bears had changed their feeding patterns, many of them refused to eat the berries and some actually died.

This story is an incredible picture of the lives of many believers in Christ. Sadly, many of us have been delivered out of spiritual Egypt and bondage to sin, but we have not been brought into the Promised Land of victory. It is interesting that God told the Israelites to eat the roasted lamb they had sacrificed (Exodus 12). The Passover lamb is a picture of the death of Christ. But feeding on the lamb is a picture of how we grow in Christ once we have been saved. 

What are you feeding on in your personal life? Are you spending time alone with Christ in the Word of God? Are you allowing the junk food of this world’s values to destroy your spiritual appetite for the Word of God? Feed on the Lamb of God and don’t allow the Enemy to feed you a lie.

The challenge: Be Like the Noble Bereans, search the Scriptures, study the Scriptures. First do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

Acts 16:6-10 sermon

Introduction:

Mercedes does not like it when I tell her “no.” Many times I tell her “no” and she will say, “But I want it, I still want it.” Of course, Mercedes is learning what “no” means. She knows full well what “yes” means. You know what else that Mercedes has learned, and we really did not have to teach her this at all, she has learned how to help herself. She does not need to wait for a “no,” or a “yes.” She just does, then we have to say “NO.” For example, do you know how many times she just helps herself to the refrigerator? Do you know how many times we have caught her trying to get cookies? Do you know that she is only three years old? It seems like just yesterday she was a baby and could not do anything on her own. Then, when I do give her a cookie she will say, “After this one I can have a second…” Okay, I never imagined being told by a three year old how things would be. I was running behind a few weeks ago and pulled into Dunkin’ Donuts and as soon as I pulled in she said, “I’m hungry, I’m so hungry.” I gave her one donut and she said, “I get two donuts.” Then sometimes she’ll add, “Four, six, seven, ten!” But she doesn’t ask and when she is told “no” she does not handle that too well.

Now, why do I share that? We all have to handle a “yes” and a “no” sometimes. We all have to tell people “yes” and “no.” We just do, that is part of life. The thing is that we must be in communication and relationship to hear these and give these commands. Sometimes we must ask permission.

Today, we look at a passage where the Apostle Paul is told “no” twice by the Holy Spirit and then the Holy Spirit tells him exactly what to do. The theme today is The Holy Spirit’s Yes and the Holy Spirit’s No; Paul, Silas and Timothy Follow the Spirit’s

Lead. Let’s look at the short passage and I want to challenge all of us to also follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

Let’s read Acts 16:6-10:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

  1. In verses 6-8 the Spirit tells Paul and his companions not to go north or south.
    1. They pass through the Phrygia and Galatia area. Remember that Paul had written a letter to Galatia later on.
    2. Interesting that we can do studies and we can know that Paul likely took a common Roman Road called the Via Sebaste which was a Roman Military Road.
    3. But the next part is most interesting. They were forbidden or kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in Asia. Now, this is not the same as modern Asia. This would be more like modern Turkey.
    4. What do you do when you are kept or forbidden from doing something? The Apostle Paul was a driven personality. He got things done. Nothing stood in his way, but right here, we see that God is His Master and He obeys.
    5. In Today’s day we have action movies where the main characters are celebrated for disobeying commands. I think of Jack Bauer in the hit show 24. In just about every season he is on the run, yet he is saving the country. Our culture celebrates rebellion. Not in this case.
    6. The Apostle Paul is submissive to the Holy Spirit.
    7. In verse 7 they were trying to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them. I love Star Trek that is no secret, but what I love best, is in Star Trek III when Admiral Kirk stole the Enterprise in order to get Spock back. Rebellion always makes a movie more exciting because you may not see that coming. The celebrated Browns Coach, Paul Brown, was a football genius. He was also in charge, no one crossed him. One day he was sending the player out with the play and the quarter back, Otto Graham, shook his head “No.” There was a look of terror on the player’s face. That young player did not want to go back and tell Paul Brown “no.” In reality, Otto Graham was just playing a trick, Otto Graham was not a rebel.
    8. Neither was the Apostle Paul, he recognized that Jesus was the Lord. Do we? Do we understand that He is in charge. You see we have gotten away from a society where we realize what it means to serve a sovereign King. We think that our voice always matters. Certainly God’s Word says that He wants and even desires to hear from us, but He is the Lord. He has no room for rebels in His Kingdom. He is the Lord.
    9. Some have asked me “Why should I serve Jesus?” Why should you follow Jesus’ “Yes” and Jesus’ “No”? You are bought with a price. Jesus has redeemed you and set you free. He died in your place and saved you. Jesus loves you and loves us all. (John 3:16; Romans 3:21-31) Jesus has called you to take part in what He is doing. To some extent He gives you a choice, but He is the Lord. Listen, your sovereign Lord has called you on a mission. How do you know? You are here. If you are a Christian, you are called to be a follower of Christ and you are called to be a part of His army, a part of His mission. He is your Lord. He is Your King. Notice that the Apostle Paul did not waver, he did not rebel.
    10. Do you realize that Paul’s obedience in traveling through these cities in verse 6 meant something like a 400 mile difference in journey? All by foot!
  2. So in verses 9-10 Paul is told by the Spirit to go west. Paul continues to obey.
    1. A vision appears to Paul in the night.
    2. Paul is told to come to Macedonia.
    3. Why? They are to go down there to help them.
    4. So, verse 10, they immediately decide to go down and preach the Gospel to them.
    5. Notice that Paul received two “no’s” and then a “yes.” Notice that Paul was obedient.
  3. Are we seeking the Holy Spirit? Are we in a place to hear from God?
    1. God speaks through his Word, the Bible. Are you in the Bible? The Holy Spirit will speak to you through the Bible.
    2. God speaks through the church, especially smaller groups and prayer partners. Are you connected?
    3. God speaks through our reason, are you learning?
    4. All the other avenues must be confirmed by God’s Word.

Close:

I had a middle of the night vision before. I woke up and Mercedes said, “It is scary in my room, there is thunder and lightning, and she proceeded to climb in our bed.” There is no questioning. If we say “No” there is a middle of the night temper tantrum. Plus, it is hard to say, “no” in the middle of the night.

But you know what, she is three years old. We are trying to teach our strong-willed child. We will. She will learn. She will learn that her parents have a will. Her parents have a desire and cares and her parents have a “yes” and a “no.” Sometimes she will have to ask and be in a relationship to know our “yes” and “no.”

The question is do we know God’s “yes” and “no”? Are we in relationship with Him? Are we seeking Him?

Do you know Him?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Prayer

Someday when the kids are grown… a devotion by Swindoll

Someday
by Charles R. Swindoll

Philippians 4:11-13

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, things are going to be a lot different. The garage won’t be full of bikes, electric train tracks on plywood, sawhorses surrounded by chunks of two-by-fours, nails, a hammer and saw, unfinished “experimental projects,” and the rabbit cage. I’ll be able to park both cars neatly in just the right places, and never again stumble over skateboards, a pile of papers (saved for the school fund drive), or the bag of rabbit food—now split and spilled. Ugh!

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, the kitchen will be incredibly neat. The sink will be free of sticky dishes, the garbage disposal won’t get choked on rubber bands or paper cups, the refrigerator won’t be clogged with nine bottles of milk, and we won’t lose the tops to jelly jars, catsup bottles, the peanut butter, the margarine, or the mustard. The water jar won’t be put back empty, the ice trays won’t be left out overnight, the blender won’t stand for six hours coated with the remains of a midnight malt, and the honey will stay inside the container.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, my lovely wife will actually have time to get dressed leisurely. A long, hot bath (without three panic interruptions), time to do her nails (even toenails if she pleases!) without answering a dozen questions and reviewing spelling words, having had her hair done that afternoon without trying to squeeze it in between racing a sick dog to the vet and a trip to the orthodontist with a kid in a bad mood because she lost her headgear.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, the instrument called a “telephone” will actually be available. It won’t look like it’s growing from a teenager’s ear. It will simply hang there . . . silently and amazingly available! It will be free of lipstick, human saliva, mayonnaise, corn chip crumbs, and toothpicks stuck in those little holes.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, I’ll be able to see through the car windows. Fingerprints, tongue licks, sneaker footprints, and dog tracks (nobody knows how) will be conspicuous by their absence. The back seat won’t be a disaster area, we won’t sit on jacks or crayons anymore, the tank will not always be somewhere between empty and fumes, and (glory to God!) I won’t have to clean up dog messes another time.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, we will return to normal conversations. You know, just plain American talk. “Gross” won’t punctuate every sentence seven times. “Yuk!” will not be heard. “Hurry up, I gotta go!” will not accompany the banging of fists on the bathroom door. “It’s my turn” won’t call for a referee. And a magazine article will be read in full without interruption, then discussed at length without mom and dad having to hide in the attic to finish the conversation.

SOMEDAY WHEN THE KIDS ARE GROWN, we won’t run out of toilet tissue. My wife won’t lose her keys. We won’t forget to shut the refrigerator door. I won’t have to dream up new ways of diverting attention from the gumball machine . . . or have to answer “Daddy, is it a sin that you’re driving forty-seven in a thirty-mile-per-hour zone?” . . . or promise to kiss the rabbit goodnight . . . or wait up forever until they get home from dates . . . or have to take a number to get a word in at the supper table . . . or endure the pious pounding of one Keith Green just below the level of acute pain.

Yes, someday when the kids are grown, things are going to be a lot different. One by one they’ll leave our nest, and the place will begin to resemble order and maybe even a touch of elegance. The clink of china and silver will be heard on occasion. The crackling of the fireplace will echo through the hallway. The phone will be strangely silent. The house will be quiet . . . and calm . . . and always clean . . . and empty . . . and filled with memories . . . and lonely . . . and we won’t like that at all. And we’ll spend our time not looking forward to Someday but looking back to Yesterday. And thinking, “Maybe we can babysit the grandkids and get some life back in this place for a change!”

Could it be that the apostle Paul had some of this in mind when he wrote:

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. (Philippians 4:11)

Maybe so. But then again, chances are good Paul never had to clean up many dog messes.

Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

sermon today, Acts 16:1-5

Opening:

Clip from the movie the Patriot when he is recruiting for the Militia

I want to begin this sermon with a clip from a movie. In this movie, Mel Gibson’s character is trying to recruit men for the militia during the Revolutionary War. Now, if you are recruiting for the Militia, where would you go? Would you go to a place that was loyal to Great Britain? Would you go to a place that was for the Colonies? One must think about their audience, correct? Watch this.

We can see that Mel Gibson’s character knew that walking into that Pub he would find people he could recruit. He knew that stating, “God save the King.” would test his audience. He knew what he was doing.

In the ministry, we must also test our audience. You may be thinking, “I am not in the ministry.” Let me back up. If you are a Christian, you are. Every follower of Jesus Christ is a minister, which means “servant” for Jesus Christ.

Please, do not take my word for it. Look at what Jesus says.

Ephesians 4:

He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

God gives all His followers Spiritual gifts so that we can be witnesses and servants for Him.

God calls you to be a witness of what He has done in your life.

So, the challenge today is to target your audience. The challenge is to get rid of barriers. Just like Mel Gibson recognized that if he wanted to recruit militia to fight against the British he should go to the Pub, so we must recognize where and how we are to minister.

The Great Idea today is that as we look at Acts 16:1-5 we notice that Paul chooses Timothy and gets rid of barriers to the gospel.

Let’s turn to Acts 16:1-5 and read it:

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

  1. Lets talk about Timothy first.

    1. Paul chooses Timothy. We see this in verse 3. Something stood out to Paul to make him want to take Timothy along. Now, we know that Paul was on his second missionary journey and he is traveling backwards through the cities.

    2. Timothy is likely 18 years old. It is possible and likely that Paul met Timothy on his first missionary journey and he would have been saved at that point.

    3. Do you know what I think stood out to Paul about Timothy? Do you know what ought to stand out to us? This will stand out to our community as well?

    4. Verse 2 says that the believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Do you realize that corresponds with 1 Timothy 3:7 which is a requirement for a church elder. A requirement for a church elder is that they have a good reputation in the community.

    5. I was reading an article that talked about signed of churches that are struggling and one sign is that you do not have enough transformation(s). You see, at some point Timothy had a transformation. But one sign of an unhealthy church is you do not have enough testimonies of people passing from death to life. When we see these testimonies, when people see these testimonies people want something of that.

      1. I was talking with another pastor, a pastor who planted a church, and I asked him how the church grew. He said that at one point they led a man to Christ they would deal drugs to many people in the area and when everyone in the community saw the transformation in him they one by one became Christians as well. It really was not the amazing faith of him, it was just the amazing transformation.

      2. By the way, 2 Timothy 3:14 says that from childhood Timothy had known the sacred writings. Timothy was raised according to the Jewish ways. But not Christian ways.

      3. Timothy had a transformation and MORE THAN THATnow, verse 2 says that the believers in Lystra and Iconium speak well of him. Praise God!

      4. Listen, this is critical for church leadership. Paul saw this in Timothy, others saw this in Timothy. This is written about here and this is written about in 1 Timothy 3:7 that an elder must have a good reputation in the community. I was at the Turn Around Pastorprogram and Dr. Penfold, one of the two leaders, talked about a time when he was on the nominating committee of a church. They were to nominate someone for a spot. A name came up. Dr. Penfold thought that this man would not be good because his reputation in the community was not good. The committee agreed. Later on, at a church business meeting a church bully spoke up and said, publicly, before the whole church, the nominating committee is not doing their duty because they have not nominated this man. After that, Dr. Penfold talked to the man who they refused to nominate and told him, I do not think we should nominate you because of your reputation in the community.Later, the nominating committee met and it turns out every one of them had told that same man, individually, that they had a problem nominating him because of his reputation in the community. Point is, God calls church leaders, church elders to be men of good character, recognized in the community.

      5. That was true in Timothy. Paul noticed that. When we notice that, it is good.

    6. Now what about Paul and Timothy: Paul considered him a son(cf. 1 Cor 4:17; 1 Tim 1:2). Not only did he address two letters to him, but he also listed him as cosender in six others (2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; Phlm 1). He considered him his fellow worker(Rom 16:21; cf. 1 Cor 16:10) and, indeed, as much more—“as a son with his fatherin the work of the gospel (Phil 2:22).

  2. Now, lets get back to audience analysis. Lets get back to the movie clip. Remember that clip from the movie the Patriot. If you are going to go fight the British, where are you going to recruit your Militia? Likewise, is it important to analyze your audience in evangelism?

    1. Yes.

    2. So, remember my great idea. Paul chooses Timothy for the Ministry and gets rid of barriers to the Gospel.

    3. What Barriers did Paul get rid of?

    4. In verse 3 it says that he circumcised Timothy, why? We just got done talking about a chapter and this big church council stating that it was not necessary. This was necessary for the non Christians, not for the Christians. Also, Timothys mother was Jewish and his grandmother. This made him, in certain customary ways, Jewish. So, to the Jews, he was Jewish. So, for Paul, he wanted to get rid of barriers, he wanted to be able to take Timothy into the synagogue and have him preach there with non Christian Jews. This was necessary.

    5. After this we have Paul going from city to city spreading the news about the Jerusalem Council. Paul was obedient to the Council: As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. Then in verse 5 we see one of Lukes common summary statements: So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Close:

I wonder, could our churches be strengthened when we think about our audience more. What about you? Who do you want to communicate the Gospel with this week? Tell me that there is someone that you would like to share Jesus with?

Okay, maybe 1 week is too soon:

This year: who would you like to share Jesus with this year? This is someone you know. Pick more than one person. Write there names down in your bulletin. Do this right now. Go home and pray about this. Do you know that in business planning people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years? I wonder if it is they same in how many people we can share Jesus with. As I was writing this, I thought I need to do this to, and I will. We must hold each other accountable.

Okay, what barriers have to be removed so that you can share Jesus? What is in the way? Think. Timothy had to be circumcised, I do not think that is the case.

Let me help you, lets talk if I can.

First do you know Jesus.

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

Sermon last Sunday, Acts 15:36-40

Think about the divisions within the church. Actually, lets be interactive. I remember sitting with my uncle at a family picnic when he said,He had been hurt more by Christians that by non-Christians.Now, why would he say that? Could it be true? Do Christians hurt each other? Why does the devil attack from within?

Raise your hand if

If you have ever been hurt by something someone who claimed to be a Christian said raise your hand.

Okay, I do not want to have you raise your hand for anymore of these because we hopefully have visitors:

Just think: Do not raise your hand:

Have you ever hurt someone with your words being a Christian yourself?

Have you ever left church in tears because of gossip or rumors?

Have you ever been angered at church because of something wrongfully said about you?

Have you wrongfully said something about someone else at church?

Have you spread the gossip or the rumor?

Have you been unloving?

Have others been unloving to you? I know this is broad.

The church is a place for sinners. The church is a place for people who do wrong things and I am one of them. But the church is also a place where once we commit to Christ we commit to grow and change and not get worse but get better.

A few weeks ago, I was with my three year old, Mercedes, she wanted to build a sand castle with gravel on the driveway. She did not know that little bit of gravel on the driveway would not build a sand castle. She did not know and does not know how much better the sand on the beach will be. Likewise, we come to know Jesus and we are sinners, we are sinners our whole life, but as we grow in Christ we grow out of certain sins. This means that we realize that life is different. Before we were playing trying to build sandcastles with gravel on a driveway, but Jesus wants us to grow into Christ followers who are not wrestling daily with the same old stuff.

Jesus wants us to have a renewed perspective. Let me make that example make some senseOkay, so, is gravel very malleable?

I have a bucket of gravel right here, let me pour some out, do you think it is malleable? No, Mercedes cannot build a sandcastle with this, and God can do anything but sometime we are not even like gravel we are like rocks and God needs to make us like sand, so that He can work within us.

Now, I have sand, let me pour some out into another bucket, is this malleable? Is it? Can you work with it? Can God work with it? Can a child like Mercedes work with it?

We need our relationships to be like sand, not like gravel or rock.

Then we will still offend people and still sin, but hopefully not the same old stuff and not as much. Hopefully then we make things right. So, lets talk about that.

I hope we can talk about that now. Lets look at a passage where the Apostle Paul had a difference with Barnabas. They part ways, but I want to make the case that though they part ways, they do so agreeably. I want to talk about Biblical restoration. I want to challenge you to Biblical restoration.

Read Acts 15:36-41 with me:

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

  1. Notice that Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement.

    1. This disagreement is in verse 37. Barnabas was an encourager, he wants to give John Mark a second chance. Now, what happened with John Mark? In Acts 13:13 Paul and Barnabas were on their first missionary journey and Barnabas went home to Jerusalem. There may have been several reasons for this: NIV text note of Acts 13:13: homesicknesss to get back to Jerusalem, an illness of Paul necessitating a change in plans and a trip to Galatia, and a change in leadership from Barnabas to Paul have all been suggested as reasons for John Marks return. (to Jerusalem). Either way, now Barnabas is saying, Lets give him a second chance. Paul says, No way.

    2. Verse 39 says that they had a “Sharp” disagreement.”

    3. Have you ever had a “Sharp” disagreement. What do you do? How do you handle it?

    4. I was once listening to a counseling program and a couple had little snicker bars all over the house and someone asked, “Why are there snicker bars all over the house?” The couple said that was to give them a timeout. You see when they are in the heat of an argument and they are in a sharp disagreement and they need a timeout, but you know we don’t want to take a timeout, do we? So, what they do is grab a little snickers bar, the little ones. Then they think and that forces a time out.

    5. I have listened to and read lots of counseling and books and documents and it is recommended that people need timeouts, but they are hard to take.

    6. I think Paul, the Apostle needed a timeout.

    7. Paul is a “Driven” personality. “Fight or flight” Paul fights.

    8. They had a sharp disagreement. Paul and Barnabas were partners and sometimes we like to take this passage and say even the best of Christians have massive arguments. I read one source that said that sometimes we take this passage too far. We take it and make it look like they had a “knock down, drag out, fight.” We don’t know that. We know they disagreed, we know they disagreed strongly, sharply, we know they needed a “timeout” or a snickers bar and there were none around. But you know what else we know, it appears there were no hurt feelings. Look at these verses: 2 Tim. 4:11: Only Luke is with me. Get [John] Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. Also: Col. 4:10: My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Philemon 24: And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 1 Cor. 9:6: Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

    9. So, it does appear that Paul and John Mark were okay, later on and even with each other later on. It appears that Paul and Barnabas were okay later on.

    10. What house happens in this passage? Sometimes we are stuck making sandcastles in a driveway with a little bit of gravel. Step back.

    11. In verses 39-41 two missionary journeys happened instead of one. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul took Silas. God spread the Great Commission more this way. Isn’t that awesome!

    12. Secondly, Paul chose Silas and Silas was a Roman citizen and we will hear more about that in chapter 16:37.

  1. Point of application: who do you have to reconcile with?

    1. Matthew 5:23-26:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

B. This passage is telling us that restoration is more important than an offering.

C. Relationships are important.

D. Lets look at one other passage of Scripture: Matthew 18:15-17:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

E. Conflict resolution begins with a small circle.

F. You go and talk to the person who has offended you. Then, if there is no resolution you bring another person in. Then two people in and then the church leadership.

G. It is not Biblical, and it is just harmful, just let things go.

Remember: What did Jesus say? You leave your offering and go and bring restoration and then come back to worship. Restoration is more important than giving! Those commands come from Gods Word.

Conclusion:

So, have you been offended? Have you offended someone else? Maybe it is time to make things right. Maybe it is time to apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Yes, we are all sinners. We are all sinners, we are all making sand castles on a driveway not on a beach, but as we grow in Christ God wants us to be more like Him and less like the world and that means that God wants us to be more loving. God wants us to be reconciled. God wants us to step back and see the beach some day. God needs us to be sand, not rock. God needs us to be malleable. God wants us to realize that you cannot make a sand castle on a driveway, but you can on a beach. Likewise, we really cannot have a holistic body until we are reconciled and we deal with those things that entangle us. Please, I urge you, in love, approach each other this week. Just one on one. Pray first. We see that the Apostle Paul, Barnabas and John Marks disagreement did not separate them.

There is a pastor named, Andy Stanley, who is son to Charles Stanley. Charles Stanley is on radio and Television and both have written books. Andy Stanley has some 33,000 people attend the campuses of his church. 33,000 people. Some 20 years ago a rift began between father and son. A major rift began. Andy was then pastoring under Charles Stanley and had different views of how to do worship. But things were growing, things were going well. To make matters worse, there were some family issues as well. I can get the article. What I want to tell is that Charles Stanley was persistent that he and Andy meet for lunch every week in order to resolve their conflicts. During this process, Andy planted a church, so they did part ways since in the beginning Andy was actually on staff at Charleschurch. But also during this time, God expanded the Kingdom. The ministry of Charles Stanley is still thriving. The ministry of Andy Stanley is thriving Andy writes on leadership and has podcast and much more. Andy Stanleys church is something like the 3rd largest in the country. But another lesson is that Charles Stanley as the Father was persistent and they reconciled their relationship. In the end they invited Charles to serve communion at Andys church and Andy for the eightieth birthday celebration of Charles Stanley.

Who do you need to talk with this week? First talk with Jesus. Make sure that you are malleable like sand, not like rock.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

Sermon last Sunday

Think about the divisions within the church. Actually, lets be interactive. I remember sitting with my uncle at a family picnic when he said,He had been hurt more by Christians that by non-Christians.Now, why would he say that? Could it be true? Do Christians hurt each other? Why does the devil attack from within?

Raise your hand if

If you have ever been hurt by something someone who claimed to be a Christian said raise your hand.

Okay, I do not want to have you raise your hand for anymore of these because we hopefully have visitors:

Just think: Do not raise your hand:

Have you ever hurt someone with your words being a Christian yourself?

Have you ever left church in tears because of gossip or rumors?

Have you ever been angered at church because of something wrongfully said about you?

Have you wrongfully said something about someone else at church?

Have you spread the gossip or the rumor?

Have you been unloving?

Have others been unloving to you? I know this is broad.

The church is a place for sinners. The church is a place for people who do wrong things and I am one of them. But the church is also a place where once we commit to Christ we commit to grow and change and not get worse but get better.

A few weeks ago, I was with my three year old, Mercedes, she wanted to build a sand castle with gravel on the driveway. She did not know that little bit of gravel on the driveway would not build a sand castle. She did not know and does not know how much better the sand on the beach will be. Likewise, we come to know Jesus and we are sinners, we are sinners our whole life, but as we grow in Christ we grow out of certain sins. This means that we realize that life is different. Before we were playing trying to build sandcastles with gravel on a driveway, but Jesus wants us to grow into Christ followers who are not wrestling daily with the same old stuff.

Jesus wants us to have a renewed perspective. Let me make that example make some senseOkay, so, is gravel very malleable?

I have a bucket of gravel right here, let me pour some out, do you think it is malleable? No, Mercedes cannot build a sandcastle with this, and God can do anything but sometime we are not even like gravel we are like rocks and God needs to make us like sand, so that He can work within us.

Now, I have sand, let me pour some out into another bucket, is this malleable? Is it? Can you work with it? Can God work with it? Can a child like Mercedes work with it?

We need our relationships to be like sand, not like gravel or rock.

Then we will still offend people and still sin, but hopefully not the same old stuff and not as much. Hopefully then we make things right. So, lets talk about that.

I hope we can talk about that now. Lets look at a passage where the Apostle Paul had a difference with Barnabas. They part ways, but I want to make the case that though they part ways, they do so agreeably. I want to talk about Biblical restoration. I want to challenge you to Biblical restoration.

Read Acts 15:36-41 with me:

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

  1. Notice that Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement.

    1. This disagreement is in verse 37. Barnabas was an encourager, he wants to give John Mark a second chance. Now, what happened with John Mark? In Acts 13:13 Paul and Barnabas were on their first missionary journey and Barnabas went home to Jerusalem. There may have been several reasons for this: NIV text note of Acts 13:13: homesicknesss to get back to Jerusalem, an illness of Paul necessitating a change in plans and a trip to Galatia, and a change in leadership from Barnabas to Paul have all been suggested as reasons for John Marks return. (to Jerusalem). Either way, now Barnabas is saying, Lets give him a second chance. Paul says, No way.

    2. Verse 39 says that they had a “Sharp” disagreement.”

    3. Have you ever had a “Sharp” disagreement. What do you do? How do you handle it?

    4. I was once listening to a counseling program and a couple had little snicker bars all over the house and someone asked, “Why are there snicker bars all over the house?” The couple said that was to give them a timeout. You see when they are in the heat of an argument and they are in a sharp disagreement and they need a timeout, but you know we don’t want to take a timeout, do we? So, what they do is grab a little snickers bar, the little ones. Then they think and that forces a time out.

    5. I have listened to and read lots of counseling and books and documents and it is recommended that people need timeouts, but they are hard to take.

    6. I think Paul, the Apostle needed a timeout.

    7. Paul is a “Driven” personality. “Fight or flight” Paul fights.

    8. They had a sharp disagreement. Paul and Barnabas were partners and sometimes we like to take this passage and say even the best of Christians have massive arguments. I read one source that said that sometimes we take this passage too far. We take it and make it look like they had a “knock down, drag out, fight.” We don’t know that. We know they disagreed, we know they disagreed strongly, sharply, we know they needed a “timeout” or a snickers bar and there were none around. But you know what else we know, it appears there were no hurt feelings. Look at these verses: 2 Tim. 4:11: Only Luke is with me. Get [John] Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. Also: Col. 4:10: My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Philemon 24: And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 1 Cor. 9:6: Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

    9. So, it does appear that Paul and John Mark were okay, later on and even with each other later on. It appears that Paul and Barnabas were okay later on.

    10. What house happens in this passage? Sometimes we are stuck making sandcastles in a driveway with a little bit of gravel. Step back.

    11. In verses 39-41 two missionary journeys happened instead of one. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul took Silas. God spread the Great Commission more this way. Isn’t that awesome!

    12. Secondly, Paul chose Silas and Silas was a Roman citizen and we will hear more about that in chapter 16:37.

  1. Point of application: who do you have to reconcile with?

    1. Matthew 5:23-26:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

B. This passage is telling us that restoration is more important than an offering.

C. Relationships are important.

D. Lets look at one other passage of Scripture: Matthew 18:15-17:

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

E. Conflict resolution begins with a small circle.

F. You go and talk to the person who has offended you. Then, if there is no resolution you bring another person in. Then two people in and then the church leadership.

G. It is not Biblical, and it is just harmful, just let things go.

Remember: What did Jesus say? You leave your offering and go and bring restoration and then come back to worship. Restoration is more important than giving! Those commands come from Gods Word.

Conclusion:

So, have you been offended? Have you offended someone else? Maybe it is time to make things right. Maybe it is time to apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Yes, we are all sinners. We are all sinners, we are all making sand castles on a driveway not on a beach, but as we grow in Christ God wants us to be more like Him and less like the world and that means that God wants us to be more loving. God wants us to be reconciled. God wants us to step back and see the beach some day. God needs us to be sand, not rock. God needs us to be malleable. God wants us to realize that you cannot make a sand castle on a driveway, but you can on a beach. Likewise, we really cannot have a holistic body until we are reconciled and we deal with those things that entangle us. Please, I urge you, in love, approach each other this week. Just one on one. Pray first. We see that the Apostle Paul, Barnabas and John Marks disagreement did not separate them.

There is a pastor named, Andy Stanley, who is son to Charles Stanley. Charles Stanley is on radio and Television and both have written books. Andy Stanley has some 33,000 people attend the campuses of his church. 33,000 people. Some 20 years ago a rift began between father and son. A major rift began. Andy was then pastoring under Charles Stanley and had different views of how to do worship. But things were growing, things were going well. To make matters worse, there were some family issues as well. I can get the article. What I want to tell is that Charles Stanley was persistent that he and Andy meet for lunch every week in order to resolve their conflicts. During this process, Andy planted a church, so they did part ways since in the beginning Andy was actually on staff at Charleschurch. But also during this time, God expanded the Kingdom. The ministry of Charles Stanley is still thriving. The ministry of Andy Stanley is thriving Andy writes on leadership and has podcast and much more. Andy Stanleys church is something like the 3rd largest in the country. But another lesson is that Charles Stanley as the Father was persistent and they reconciled their relationship. In the end they invited Charles to serve communion at Andys church and Andy for the eightieth birthday celebration of Charles Stanley.

Who do you need to talk with this week? First talk with Jesus. Make sure that you are malleable like sand, not like rock.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray